A Submarine Spotted

Type 209

On 28 November 2011, one Turkish Type 209 / 1400 class submarine sailed through Bosphorus to Black Sea. Since Turkish Navy stooped painting the pennant number of the submarines on their hulls, it is impossible to identify each individual submarine anymore. While this new painting scheme helps the submarines to blend and prevents IR/FLIR/LLTV using trackers or electro-optic directors any high contrast target, it makes ship spotting difficult.

With 6 Type 209/1200 and 8 Type 209/1400 class submarines in service, Turkey has the largest conventional submarine fleet in the NATO.

Turkish Navy Tested An ESSM Missile

I don’t know where, or when but apparently Turkish Navy fired an ESSM missile from a MK-41 VLS launcher on a Gabya (Perry) class frigate.

The photos above are taken from the footage of The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation. The national public broadcaster of Turkey made a TV program about the Turkish digital combat management system named GENESIS (Gemi Entegre Savaş İdare Sistemi). Click here to watch the show.

Although the name of the frigate that fires the ESSM was never mentioned during the show, I assume it must be F-495 TCG Gediz, the first Gabya (Perry) class frigate to receive the Mk-41 VLS.

Photos from 238th Anniversary Celebrations Of Turkish Naval Academy

Turkish Naval Academy was founded in 18 November 1773. To celebrate the 238th anniversary of this occasion a small armada of Turkish warships visited Heybeliada were today the Turkish Naval High School still educates the futures cadres of Turkish Navy. Among the visitors were the first of Milgem class, TCG Heybeliada, the first of New Type Patrol Boat class, TCG Tuzla, the second ship of Aydın Class mine hunters, TCG Amasra, one unidentified Type 209 submarine and various Coast Guard vessels. Enjoy the photos

F-511 TCG Heybeliada

F-511 TCG Heybeliada

P-1200 TCG Tuzla

M-266 TCG Amasra

Type 209 / 1400 class submarine

SG-12

SG-94

SG-312

The Hijacking Of M/V Kartepe

The explosives and detonators found of the body of the terrorist.

Almost one week has passed since the hijacking of the M/V Kartepe. With each passing day the dust and gun smoke around the whole affair settles leaving us with a better view of the things that happened during that night.

As always the first information about the incident was incorrect or false. There was only one member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 27-year-old Mensur Güzel on board during the hijacking and not 4 as reported.

He entered the vessel along with other passengers in Izmit at 17:45 in 11th November 2011. There were 18 passengers, 4 crew and 2 trainees on board. The terrorist entered the bridge by the thread of detonating a bomb strapped to him and took the command of the ship.

The second captain of M/V Kartepe was able to inform the security forces before the hijacker have the cell phones collected.

During the night M/V Kartepe sailed across the Marmara Sea mostly in circles with coast guard and police interception boats in her vicinity. It is not clear who ordered the router for the vessel was it the hijacker who gave the directions or was it the captain.

In the middle of the night the fuel of the off the shore of Silivri a suburb of the west of Istanbul.

M/V Kartepe minutes after the rescue operation.

In the mean time the security forces were able to verify that there was only one terrorist on board. This information was confirmed by some of the passengers as the called when the terrorist returned them their cell phones.

Shortly before the dawn the security forces contacted one of the crew member on board to open the entrance doors at the back of the boat so that a naval special forces team of 15, can enter inside while the terrorist was still in the bridge.

After all the passengers were gathered in a safe place in M/V Kartepe, the naval commandoes shot the hijacker at 05:45. According to news reports he was shot 6 times; 3 shots in head 3 shots in chest.

Later 3 pieces of explosives type A-4 each weighting 450 grams, various detonators and chemical substances to enhance the force of the blast were recovered from his body.

The passengers who were interviewed by the press after the incident told that the whole operation of the special forces was very smooth almost as if all was an exercise.

I believe that the whole hijacking incident was a very good reminder for all of us why a country needs naval special forces and that they are a versatile tool not just for a war but for any kind of maritime security issue

M/V Kartepe hijacked in Marmara Sea

M/V Kartepe, a high speed passenger vessel belonging to the municipality of Izmit was hijacked by 4 or 5 terrorist this evening as the vessel was on her routine voyage from Izmit to Karamursel.

According to news reports there are 19 passengers, 6 crew. The terrorist overwhelmed the crew and entered into the bridge by saying that bombs are strapped to their bodies.

Currently, I as write this, the vessel is moving in Marmara Sea without a particular heading. The remaining fuel can last 120 nautical miles. The terrorists did not contact any authorities for any demands yet.

An unidentified number of Turkish Coast Guard vessels some salvage and rescue ships and most probably teams of Turkish naval special forces are shadowing the hijacked vessel.

SNMCMG-2 Is In Patras For An Exercise With Greek Navy

A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa, the flagship of SNMCMG-2

Tomorrow NATO’s SNMCMG-2 will start a 3 day visit in Patras, Greece.

SNMCMG-2 is currently led by Captain Abdulhamit Şener of Turkish Navy. Last month the task force made a visit to Spit, Croatia. Following their departure from Split, the ships of SNMCMG-2, led by the flagship A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasanpaşa, conducted underway exercises with the Croatian Navy on 11 and 12 October.

According to the press release of the Greek Navy SNMCMG-2 will take part in the Exercise Ariadne. The exercise will involve extra power of the Navy, consisting of the frigate F-459 Andrias, the mine hunters M-64 Kalypso, M-63 Kallisto and gunboats P-268 Aititos, P-19 Navmachos. During their stay in Patras, the foreign crews of the ships will visit archaeological sites and places of tourist interest.

The current composition of SNMCMG-2 is as following:

Number
Name
Nation
Participants
A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa Turkey Flagship
M-270 TCG Akçay Turkey Minehunter
M-35 SPS Duero Spain Minehunter
5557 ITS Numano Italy Minehunter
M-1063 Bad Beversen Germany Minehunter

BAE Systems, Global Combat Ship And Turkey (Part 1)

In November Turkish President Abdullah Gül will visit United Kingdom. This visit has two highlight particularly important from naval point of view: First during his visit he will visit the BAE System’s shipyard in Portsmouth. Second an agreement (probably a Letter of Agreement) about joint defense R&D with UK will be signed. A similar agreement was signed with India last month.

Why are these two highlights of Mr Gül’s visit important? They are important because they represent a significant milestone in the British efforts to increase the defense cooperation between Turkey and UK.

United Kingdom is one of the largest exporters of defense equipment in the world. But their market share in Turkish defense market is almost non existent.

Since 1950, with the exception of four used Milne class destroyers, the main UK export products for Turkish Naval market were 10 AWS-6 Dolphin, 8 AWS-9 radars, 6 Type 2093 MCM sonars and some Mk24 Tigerfish torpedoes and Sea Skua missiles.

The British Government designated Turkey as a strategic partner. Prime Ministers Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and David Cameron signed a new Turkey/United Kingdom Strategic Partnership in Ankara on 27 July 2010. According to the British Embassy in Ankara, this new partnership reflects many common strategic interests of the two countries. It brings together commitments in the fields of bilateral relations, trade and investment, Turkey’s EU accession, regional stability and peace, a Cyprus settlement, defense, global security and terrorism, illegal trafficking of weapons, illegal migration, energy security and a low-carbon future, intercultural dialogue, and education and culture.

Well the issues like Turkey’s EU accession, regional stability and peace, a Cyprus settlement are there just for lip service. The real deal behind the strategic partnership is to increase bilateral trade and investment and especially in defense field. The British government is investing a considerable amount of political capital to create a government to government connection. The next step is to create a navy to navy connection. This will be followed by a industry to industry connection.

The reason the British government and the British defense industry is investing in a cooperation with Turkey can be explained with the current state of the British defense budget. Britain must find new markets for its defense products as the British defense budgets is not large enough to support the British defense industry anymore. So Turkey appears as a lucrative market for the British. And the untouched naval market offers a good opportunity for a start.

From this perspective it is very understandable why there such large attendance of British companies in IDEF 2011 Defence Exhibition and 4th Naval Systems Seminar (UKTI DSO, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, BMT, IHS Janes, Johnson Controls, MBDA).

The British marketing efforts in Turkey, spearheaded by BAE Systems, is concentrated around the Global Combat Ship project.

The Global Combat Ship (GCS) is the export variant of UK’s Type 26 frigate. BAE Systems Surface Ships (BAE SSS) has been designated lead ship contractor and systems integrator. The company was also awarded a 127 million GBP contract by UK MoD to lead a four-year assessment phase in March 2010.

The Type 26 is a versatile ASW combatant and is intended to form the workhorse of the Royal Navy (RN). Entering into service from 2021 the Type 26 ships will replace the existing Type 23 frigates. The RN plans to have 13 Type 26 ships, compromising eight ASW version and five general purpose variant.

Both RN and BAE SSS have their own good reason to push the Type 26/GCS to export markets.

For RN the export success of GCS is important because as Dr. Julian Lewis puts it neatly if the RN is to have any chance of restoring the escort fleet, it must make the Type 26/GCS as cheap as chips.

In order to create the economics of scale to make the ships as cheap as chips a lot of GCS’s need to be exported. Otherwise the Royal Navy may not stay ahead of Belgium or Danish Naval Forces.

For BAE SSS is Type 26 may be their last hope to become a global naval shipbuilder. BAE Systems is one of the top five defense contractors in the world. They have build every thing from submarines to tanks, airplanes etc. But the company has yet to prove itself as a serious player in international naval market. And definitely this is not going to be a smooth sail.

The BAE SSS suffered a series of set backs in the recent years in international projects.

Greece: In March 2011 BAE SSS announced that it has pulled itself from the contract with the Elefsis. BAE SSS cited the lack of payments for the project by Greek government as the reason for its departure.

The construction of Super Vita corvettes is or was the biggest warship construction project in Greece besides the construction of 6 Type 214 AIP submarines.

Brunei: In 2005 BAE SSS had to sue the Sultan Of Brunei, one of the world’s richest men, over a row involving over $1-billion order for three Nakhoda Ragam class corvettes, as the sultan has refused to accept them because they allegedly fail to meet his specifications, the paper said

All three completed vessels remain unsold and are laid up at Barrow-in-Furness, and are waiting for a customer.

Trinidad & Tobago: The Caribbean island Trinidad & Tobago ordered three patrol ships from VT Shipbuilding in April 2007. After BAE acquired VT in October 2009 the project encountered considerable delays so that in September 2010 Trinidad & Tobago had to cancel the deal causing BAE SSS a loss of 150 million GBP.

Malaysia: BAE SSS encountered delays due to difficulties in the systems integrations of the weapons and weapons control system before the delivery of these frigates to Malaysia. The problems were overcome in the end but a plans for the purchase and construction of two Batch II Lekiu Class frigates from BAE Systems have been scrapped. A report in the British newspaper The Times in August 2009 quoted a BAE spokesperson as saying that both parties had agreed to not continue with the deal due to cost cutting measures by the Malaysian government, although BAE offered a cheaper alternative in the form of offshore patrol vessels.

Oman: The delivery of three corvettes destined for the Royal Navy of Oman has been hit by the discovery of a series of engineering problems found during sea trials of Al Shamikh, the first of class being built by BAE Systems Surface Ships.

BAE SSS is trying to fix the problems as Oman is a key export market for the British defense industry. BAE is involved in talks with the Gulf State government to complete a multibillion-pound deal to sell Typhoon fighters to the air force.

Some of the above mentioned problems can be attributed to the fact that BAE SSS’s rapid growth by buying other naval shipbuilders and the related management issues arising after such mergers.

Never the less the RN is currently the only important customer of BAE SSS, but the number of projects the company is running for this customer is decreasing with the diminishing defense budget.

So the Type 26/GSC can really be the last ticket for the BAE Systems to the global naval shipbuilding market along with other key players such as DCNS, Navantia, HDW, Fincantieri. Failing to succeed the BAE SSS will remain predominately a supplier for the RN and UK Mod and may face a significant downsizing reflecting the UK defence spending.

And the fact that since the export success of Leander (Type 12) frigate 40 years ago Britain failed to come up with a frigate design acceptable by foreign customers does not make things easier.

The above explained circumstances clearly show why the Royal Navy and BAE Systems SS is acting together and getting the political back-up from the British government.

These efforts of British government and defence industry has not been without success. So far UK established dialogues with Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Turkey. Canada has already refused to take part in Type 26 program and has chosen its own course.

Is there a market for the GCS in Turkey? According to a BAE Systems military advisor, Read Admiral Chris Clayton UK is keen to establish a strategic partnership with Turkey, to jointly develop future naval capability. One potential area for co-operation is the Global Combat Ship (GCS) programme. This would see us jointly developing the expertise to deliver state-of-the-art warships that meet the demands of global maritime customers into the middle of the 21st century.

In Part II, I will share my thoughts on Turkey’s participation on Global Combat Ship project.

Republic Day 2011

Today is the 88th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

This years mood was somber because of the earthquake in Van last week.But despite the cancellation of official ceremonies the public went to the streets for celebrations parades.

As it is customs several Turkish were open to the public. The below chart shows the ships that were open to the public between 10:00 – 12:00 and 14:00-16:00 on 29th October 2011.

For me the biggest surprise was to see the submarine S-359 TCG Burakreis in Hopa. Well Hopa is the most eastern port of Turkey on the Black Sea coast close to the border of Georgia. And TCG Burakreis is the second youngest submarine in the fleet of the Turkish Navy.

Well I am sure that this submarine did not just arrived there to celebrate the 88th anniversary of the Turkish Republic with the citizens of Hopa.

Ten Years Of Operation Active Endeavour

F-245 TCG Oruçreis

In the wake of the 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks on WTC, NATO  implemented  Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. One of the actions taken in this regard was the starting of Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) in Eastern Mediterranean.

The aim of OAE is to control the shipping through the Mediterranean basin by hailing ships or by boarding them so that the flow of the terrorists, or their tools of trade can be intercepted.

Building on the experience acquired over the years, OAE has become largely network-based and has developed a considerable Maritime Situational Awareness through the use of modern tracking and analysis technologies. It also benefits enormously from cooperation with non-NATO contributing nations. However, surge operations remain an integral part of OAE and are specifically designed to deny terrorists the option of operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to Vice Admiral Veri: “The ship remains at the centre of NATO’s presence in the Mediterranean but it is what lies behind and supports this presence which is now so very impressive. Networking both in the sense of NATO networking with other countries and organisations, as well as in the sense of computer and digital networks, gives me a vision of the Area of Operations that just wasn’t there for the first commander of OAE. And although they are two distinct operations, the situational awareness that OAE has given me has been of enormous use during the maritime operations carried out in Operation Unified Protector”

Many NATO, EAPC/PfP Partners, Mediterranean Dialogue countries and other selected nations supported OAE. Currently SNMG2 flagship, F-245 TCG Oruçreis along with German frigate F-216 FGS Schleswig Holstein is patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in support of OAE.

Rear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi TOSUN, Commander of SNMG2:

Our presence and patrols in support of Operation Active Endeavour will continue to deter terrorists transporting personnel, equipment and materials through the Mediterranean. As a vivid example of the global fight against terrorism, OAE not only serves to deter terrorist or illegal activities but also provides reassurance to the all sailors legitimately using this vast area. Therefore, the key to the success of the operation is the interaction with the maritime community. This sharing of information gives us a good inside to detect anomalies very quickly and to take appropriate actions.”

I am glad to see that the strength of SNMG-2 was increased by %100; from one to two ships.

H/T: David Shirlaw.

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 5)

The Eastern Mediterranean is no longer in the spot light of the public opinion. More important and pressing events such as the death of Gaddafi in Libya, the earthquake in Van, Turkey left the guess for oil in the Eastern Mediterranean in the shadows.

I think all actors of this quest are happy from this fact as they have more room for maneuver when everybody is looking somewhere else.

Turkey continues to look for hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. According to news reports a third ship R/V Oceanic Challenger will join the old and reliable R/V K Piri Reis and R/V Bergen Surveyor. The R/V Oceanic Challenger is rented by TPAO and will search for hydrocarbon reserves in a 1.100 square kilometers area off the coast of Alanya, Turkey.

Israel has sent warplanes and military helicopters for a “routine military exercise between the allies”. The Israeli diplomatic sources denied the allegations of Turkish media that these exercises were intended to send a message to Turkey. Air force exercises over our allies’ air space are routine for the Israeli military and there is no political agenda behind this,” an Israeli source said.

The Israeli embassy yesterday downplayed reports in the press claiming that military exercises were being conducted in Cyprus’ airspace in order to send a message to Turkey. 

“Air force exercises over our allies’ air space are routine for the Israeli military and there is no political agenda behind this,” an Israeli source said. 

Daily Phileleftheros said yesterday that Israel and Cyprus wanted to send a strong message to Turkey and were collaborating on military exercises. 

This source seems to ignore the fact that Cyprus has no air force!

Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias canceled his visit to the drilling platform «Noble Homer Ferrington» of Noble Energy in the “Plot 12”, due to his busy schedule.

The devastating earthquake in Van caused a temporary break in the diplomatic struggle between Turkey, Israel and Greece and could lead to a earthquake diplomacy like the one in 1999.

Israel offered humanitarian help and any help possible, anywhere in Turkey and at any time.

President Shimon Peres called Turkish President Abdullah Gul and offered his condolences following the 7.3 magnitude quake that struck southeastern Turkey earlier Sunday, that may have claimed the lives of up to 1,000 people.

“Speaking as a human being, a Jew and an Israeli who remembers and is aware of the depth of the historic relations between our two countries, I extend condolences on behalf of the entire (Israeli) people,” Peres said.

Peres added that “in this difficult hour, the State of Israel is ready to offer any assistance possible, anywhere in Turkey and at any time.”

Greece stated that she too was ready to provide all possible assistance to the Turkish authorities after a devastating earthquake that hit the Van region

Greece is prepared to provide all possible assistance to the Turkish authorities after a devastating earthquake that hit the Van region of the neighbouring country shortly after noon on Sunday, Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis told his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in a telephone call later in the day.
Lambrinidis expressed his deepest condolences and the Greek people’s support for the Turkish people, and informed Davutoglu of the Greek citizens protection ministry’s readiness to provide all possible assistance to the Turkish authorities in dealing with the disaster.

Anybody who thinks that this dispute over the hydrocarbons is limited to Turkey, Greece and Israel is a fool. At a time when all governments are desperate to balance their budgets the real or perceived revenues from selling any hydrocarbon resources, puts people into a state of hysteria even countries with no major hostility in their history.

In the case of Italy, tensions with Malta have risen following the island’s publication of a tender for oil exploration in the Ionian Sea – in areas claimed by Italy. Meanwhile, Malta is also in dispute with Libya over its southern maritime borders. Furthermore, environmental concerns over a possible oil spill in the Mediterranean’s closed sea could also hamper upstream activity in the region.

With recent discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean and further ongoing exploration already taking place offshore Italy, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro (and possibly Greece in the near future), we believe that exploration on Italy’s side of the Ionian Sea is likely to attract significant interest. Nevertheless, this raises political tensions and a great deal of diplomacy will be required if serious disputes are to be resolved or avoided.

Be sure to follow EagleSpeak’s excellent blog. He is one of the most up-to-date information source about piracy among other topics.
For the previous updates of Eastern Mediterranean:
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 4)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 3)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 1)

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